Our Devotion Must be to Christ and not to Ourselves

Prayer

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.” James 4:11

 

The biblical model for our church is clearly laid out in Scripture. We may not agree with one another on how to implement His call, or even how to do our government. We may not agree on how we worship or on the subtle aspects of pre-millennial, post-millennial, pre-tribulation, or post-tribulation doctrine. However, those things we must agree on and what we must do cooperatively are found in His Word. It contains the big picture and call to the essentials of what a church is to be, which is acknowledging His supremacy in all that we do.

Understanding His supremacy means understanding His holiness. Yet, holiness is not a part of a lot of churches because we have forgotten why we are there and what the true role of the church is.

We have forgotten that the Lord of the universe has called us out and has set us apart for His use. We have replaced His holiness with our own experiences because we have forgotten our call, our definition, and the real biblical purpose. We have been placed in a church for a reason, and one of the main reasons is to be set apart for His purpose and not for our own. This is holiness. We have forgotten our adoption into His kingdom and the vision of what our church should be. We have replaced it with gothic cathedrals with magnificent stained glass pictures and architecture that screams, “God is holy,” yet the pews are empty; the teaching and discipleship are forsaken. We have moved the church so close to the consumer we have forgotten what we stand for. We have printed out ideas and motions as “core values” with Scripture that we think rivets His plan to a purpose, yet the people go untaught and continue to spread the disease of gossip and malice. Lust, greed, and power have taken over when peace, grace, forgiveness, and love are to be the route taken.

Well thought out functionally unhitched to the basics of why we do church misleads its members and community and displeases God! Even if the church grows, it is unhealthy church growth and misses the point of who and why we are.

We must see our unworthiness and inadequacy before our holy God and seek His forgiveness and restitution. We must not let our sin replace the call of the church to holiness. We must allow His grace to work within us and through us so we can be the church that is healthy, vibrant, and filled with love. The goal is to have His love and our love, all working together and all surrendered and poured out to holiness and purpose that is not forgotten. The church is about us as the Christians who are in Him, worshiping Him. It is not about our petty needs and us. The church was created for us to house His plan in our lives, to come together in community for worship, fellowship, teaching, and outreach. It is about us because it binds us together for Him. It is not about our replacing His desires and plans for ours, or putting the focus upon us. We are not the main characters in God’s drama of redemption, Christ is.

Thus, we must realize that the church is about our Lord Jesus Christ and His plan for redemption. It is about our coming together and modeling His character. We are the supporting cast of actors and extras that make the story come alive to those around us. The church is not a place for grandstanding our desires and personalities.

We need to depend on the cross because we fall way short of the expectations, obedience, and the law. Now, with grace, we can go through life empowered and indwelled by the Spirit. When we have a growing relationship with Christ, we can go through life without fear; we can have the comfort of His presence and help build His church as healthy, vibrant, and effective. Our response is passionate devotion and obedience. We cannot be devoted to principles or even doctrine if we are not devoted to the person and work of Christ. Our church is not a cause; it is a Person, the God and Creator of all things who loves us, who indwells in us, who empowers us, and who guides us according to His purposes.

Our devotion must be to Christ and not to ourselves, not to a principle or to an idea, and definitely not to trends.

We cannot pour out our lives for false passion and conviction for a goal that has no eternal purpose, one that does not glorify our Lord. When we run our churches by our personal agenda and principles, we go astray because our principles are not in the Lordship of Christ, they are within us. We become in “breach of the contract,” of His covenant of love and acceptance, rejecting it for self-interests that lead us nowhere! We need to receive the love of our Lord from the Holy Spirit, and not allow anything to get in His way!

Remember, your church can be healthy. The question is, what are you willing to do about it?

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Does your Church have Love or Relevance at its Core?

 church loveThe principal factor that grows our churches and glorifies the Lord is not chasing a numbers paradigm or the latest trend. Rather, it is all about how we love with the impacting Gospel of our Lord that is preached uncompromised with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Then we bring it with the conviction of the true Truth of God’s Word, and the clarity of the reverence and relevance of our Lord moving in our lives. These are the precious items we bring to build our church in God’s Way!

Love is. The primary Greek word is Agape, which means “self-giving” and “sacrificial,” that is more concerned with others than self. It was used in Classic Greek literature to refer to someone who was generously favored by a god. It conveys the idea of a person giving all his or her love, or favor, to someone else rather than to self. It is a love that is not earned; in contrast, it is relational and given freely. The word “Love” also refers to parents giving all of their love for their child.

In the New Testament, agape love was used to make a similar point, as God gives to each of us all of His love.

Real love goes deeper and further, as a deep adoration that is bestowed without expectations of a response from the other. Agape love is also the most common word used both as a noun and a verb in the New Testament. The greatest example of agape love is what our Lord Jesus Christ did when He died for our sins.

Consequently, God’s agape love gave us His forbearance and rescue from the punishment that we deserved. Rather than receiving what we should have, we received His favor without earning it.

(Deut. 6:5; Joshua 24:14 -15; Isa. 44:9-20; Mark 12:28-31; John 3:16; 21:16; Matt. 22:34-40; John 3:16; 13:1, 34-35; 14:1; 15:9; Rom. 1:31; 5:8-10; 8; 12:10; 13:11-14; 1 Cor. 7:32-35; 13; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5 Gal. 5:5; Eph. 2:4-7; Phil. 2:2; Col. 1:1-6; 3:5, 12-14; 1 Thess. 1:3; 2:8; 3:6; 12; 4:9-10; 5:8-13; 2 Tim. 3:3; Heb. 10:24; 1 John 4:7-12).

All men will know that you are my disciples. When we love one another, we prove and exhibit Christ!

This is our “mark,” the prime characteristic that makes us friendly and connectable to others, and how we are to be known-by what Christ does with us and calls us to. We are to love one another-period! No strings attached! This is the mold for the form that we use to display God’s love to the world (John 13:34-35; 15:13-17; 2 Cor. 5:20; Gal. 5:22; 1 John 2:10; 3:14-16)!

How do we know if this is working? This is exhibited in the form of the example from Whom our Lord is being lived out in the leaders lives. Then we can examine our practice with this question, “do you use people, or do you serve them?” Remember, Jesus was God, who came to this earth to love and to serve (John 13-14; 18:15-27)!

Thus, we do not aim at our people with numbers or manipulate them to whatever the latest business model or schema, we present the Gospel of God’s true Truth in love by teaching it and by living it out. Then we grow our churches, God’s Way.

What is real love? How is it shown by the fruits of it, like humility and service?

What makes a Church Healthy or Unhealthy?

This comes from a big problem we have in most churches today, that is the tendency of leaders not effectually growing in the Lord and thus do not practice their faith and this dispenses down to the congregation.

And the outcome is a church that has missed its point and reason for being; as its people, who Christ has brought in, go without being taught or discipled because the pastors and leaders are not being taught or discipled.

Being mature means you know not just Who Christ is, but His impact has gone deep and has occupied all aspects of our life and faith. Life is all about Him and not about selfish ideas or perceptions. We have gone to His throne and His priestly duty has been received, our Milk, and then the meat is feasted upon, His wondrous precepts and Truth. So our faith is real, personal, fully transformed and becoming fully engaged followers of Christ seen by a life well lived.

If we want to be an impacting Christian pastor or lay leader in a church that impacts its community and world, we have to be eating the meat of God’s precepts with passion and conviction, in love and in truth and then sharing it with others.

for more, see the research here: http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=44960&columnid=4545

The Pastors Role is to point people to Christ!

John 21:16; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:11-12; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; 4:15-16; 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:15; 4:1-5; 1 Pet. 5:1-2

Preach, teach, and point your flock to the LORD Jesus Christ and not to yourselves!

“You must not lose confidence in God because you lost confidence in your pastor. If our confidence in God had to depend upon our confidence in any human person, we would be on shifting sand.”  Francis A. Schaeffer

 We are not to point to trends or to ourselves, we are not to be sloppy in our studies or devotions, we are not to have dinner conversations in the pulpit, we are to preach!

Feed your sheep!  16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16

Shepherd your sheep! 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. Acts 20:28

Equip your people! 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up Ephesians 4:11-12

Be right with God! 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Titus 1:5-9

Have Character and Fruit of the Spirit! 3 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. 1 Timothy 3:1-7

Do your best due diligence! 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:15-16

Be worthy! 17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 1 Timothy 5:17

Teach true Truth! 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Preach and teach correctly! 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Point to Christ as LORD! 5 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;… 1 Peter 5:1-2

Pastors, you must teach the Bible in full clarity with power, conviction and in the full true Truth. If not, then quit…and go sell insurance….run do not walk to the nearest exit, leave, vamoose, hit the road, and give your pulpit to someone, who knows the Word, loves the Lord and who will preach Truth, teach and disciple! Why? For the reason, you are not a ‘real’ pastor, in the biblical sense, who is called to equip, inspire and train; rather, you are just a noise of 1 Cor. 13:1….

Is Spiritual Maturity Important in the Church?

Look what we at the Schaeffer Institute found: 

We are called to spiritual growth—that is, the formation of the investment of faith Christ gives us that we give back to Him in dividends. This is a deep conviction of our faith, a practiced submission that shows our obedience, and a life of personal and relational maturity. We have to listen to God; if not, we will not learn and then we will not grow and then we will not have a life of transformation and growth. Instead, we experience a storm-tossed sea of life, wayward in every perspective because our eyes and ears are not upon our Lord (Hebrews chap 1-6; James 1). 

Eighty-three percent (83%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said their people were content in their Christian faith. 

Eighty-one percent (81%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said they had no regular or effective discipleship program or effort to mentor their people at their church. 

Eighty-one percent (81%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said there was no primary teaching from the pulpit to challenge or deepen their people’s Christian formation (spiritual growth and biblical application) at their church. 

Seventy-eight percent (78%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said they either are or will focus on new trends or ideas to try fix something they feel is not working right. Seventy percent (70%) stated this is where their primary time is spent, whereas only 22% of those sought answers for their church problems from God’s Word, good theological sources, or going to more trained and experienced pastors for advice. 

More here:

http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=44952&columnid=4545

The Slippery Slope P V

Embracing the Postmodern Mindsets of Political Correctness

Our virtue leaves us when we start to reject moral absolutes and forsake accountability to our Lord. This forms a void that we fill with all kinds of things meant to fulfill people’s “felt needs” except solid Christian formation that is essential for their “real needs.” Even if the doctrine of a church is rock solid, moving off the Cornerstone can be replacing what the Bible teaches with trends. Or, it can be just administering the business of the church as the main function of the church instead of discipling. 

This is about our growth in Christ! We need to hear His call. Christ calls us to take up the cross and deny ourselves; this is extreme discipleship, a call that is to cancel out our will so we can submit to His. When we confess Christ as our Savior, it means He is our Lord. We are to surrender to His direction, call, and purpose. When we claim to be His, we need to commit and follow, leaving behind all that hinders and causes us to go astray.

This subject is an aspect to sanctification meaning our growth in Christ, this encompasses how and why we grow in our faith. Why do some people grow in their faith and maturity while others go about it very slowly or not at all? This is what “our part” is in our relationship with Christ. As His Work and the work of the Holy Spirit saves us and our part is responding by faith and obedience.

(Psalm 118:18-27; 127:1; Eph. 2:19-22; Col. 3:17; 1 Thess. 5: 12-18; 1 Tim. 5:17; 6:1;1 Peter 2:4-17; Heb. 12:28-29)

If you do not have faith and obedience at work in your leaders life and church, then you are a club and not a real authentic church!

The Slippery Slope P IV

Prayer is Seen as a Last Resort Rather than at the Forefront.

The leadership of a given church is not praying. This transpires the mindset that we want to direct our church our way, without His help, and be independent in our thinking, with the belief that this is maturity and progress. In fact, this is regress and apostasy. Sounds like, who would do that? Well, most churches with whom I have consulted in the last ten-plus years that are failing had no prayer life, either in groups, in the pulpit, or in the leader’s homes.

From my doctoral research, I found that none of the churches that failed prayed, and the ones that did pray were often superficial and prideful. Perhaps liturgy and ceremonial prayers were spoken, but not the heartfelt seeking of God. Real prayer starts in the homes of the pastor and leaders; then, the leadership comes together to pray.

There is prayer in the pulpit, in the service, and in all groups in the church, both scheduled and not scheduled. A church must always seek His face reverently and passionately! If we try to run our churches without prayer, we are running them without our Cornerstone. We cannot do His call, His work, or our Christian life without His lead and relationship. Prayer must be utmost and foremost for His purpose to be in our churches.

(Matthew 6: 5-15; 7: 7-12; Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 11:1; 23:46; John 15:4-5; Romans 8: 18-30; James 5:13-18)